We've all read The Grinch (ok- if we're being honest, at least seen The Grinch). First, go ahead and set all the unsavory things about Dr. Seuss aside, and hone in on his sentiment for the holidays. Maybe the true meaning doesn't come from a store, maybe (hopefully) the holidays are about something more.
How easy is that sentiment to swallow when you're curled up on the couch, drinking coco? But what about when you're fighting the crowds at the post office, or when you're facing a sales associate that isn't particularly thrilled to be working the Saturday before Christmas? And what about sitting around the table sprinkled with your politically diverse family as you literally grip the chair and bite back your opposing views, all to keep the peace. Still feeling all warm and tingly with holiday joy? Yeah, thought so.
So I'd like to help. Perhaps these tips could help someone in your life with their upcoming travel anxiety, or mentally prepare for Uncle Tony (everyone has an 'Uncle Tony' or 'Aunt Phyllis' that is freaking mentally taxing), maybe they're not physically feeling their best and are eating their emotions until January 1 rolls around, and we can't forget the pressures about marriage/children/jobs/income. We feeling merry yet??
I've curated a smattering of things to try and ease that holiday tension so that we can all survive, nay, enjoy our holiday seasons.
1. When it comes to shopping and gift giving, I am either stoked because I know exactly what I want to give someone -or- dreading the scramble to find something last minute. I'm alleviating that drama this year. I freaking love giving experiences over gifts. So many people are moving in a minimalist direction and I don't want to be cluttering up their lives. Travel vouchers, a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, movie or theater tickets are great go-to ideas. If they aren't a minimalista (did I make up a new word?), I love gifting subscriptions. Think about it, how fun is it to keep getting a gift all year (or through March, at least). Has your mother become a #dogmom since you left the nest? How about sending a Bark Box for her to give your little dog sis (it sounds even weirder when you're referred to as the Puggle's "big sis"). Did your little brother just declare that he is going vegan? Send him some Purple Carrot meals. Got a mentor/fellow boss babe that helps keep you accountable and inspired? Box Fox is glam and useful wrapped into one luxe package. And finally, for your old roommate that is still using your Netflix account, just get them their own subscription (and change your password).
2. Does holiday travel make you want to curl up into a tiny little ball and hyperventilate into a paper bag? I use to be the biggest travel nut. Insisting on arriving to the airport hours before my flight boarded. Huffing through security, paranoid af that I would get randomly selected- even though I traveled with nothing questionable. Oh, how times have changed! I travel pretty frequently with my business (and for pleasure, obvs) now and invested in TSA precheck (aint nobody got time to take their shoes off). This has probably helped the most with my travel anxiety, truth be told. I also now take full advantage of the Delta Sky Lounge. They have this strawberry infused water that makes me feel right as rain prior to boarding so I fill up my travel bottle and go. And there are typically never screaming kids running around tripping over my power cord up there. Once you're boarded, may I suggest some noise cancelling headphones? They don't have to be some bougie $300 pair. You can get effective ones for less. And do yourself a favor and download a) the Netflix app on your phone (cause you can't trust your flight will have entertainment) and b) some podcasts or the audiobook version of the book thats been chilling on your nightstand for eight months. Then pull out your CO Bigelow charcoal eyemask and poof- you're living the dream.
3. So you've arrived at your travel destination and now you can pass out gifts, relax, and enjoy the simple pleasures the holidays have to offer. HAHAHAHAHA thas cute, right? No, now you have to 'person'. This is only a problem if you're a massive introvert like me (hai). Ok, not really. Even extraverts share with me their woes of family gatherings. A few pointers? Don't get drunk. I know, I know, this is literally the last thing you think I would suggest...but I have my reasons. Anyone get a tad defensive after too much Malbec? Maybe a bit boisterous and prone to physical altercations after that third Jack and ginger? Or my personal kryptonite, Christmas morning mimosas with a splash indignation (aka Prosecco and politics). Just stick to two drinks and chug water the rest of the time. Bonus: you'll be so hydrated, bathroom breaks will be every twenty minutes and Aunt Phyllis' extra salty green bean casserole won't give you a whole different kind of hangover. Also, go for a multitude of walks. Tell your fam that you're getting a leg up on those resolutions that they've not so subtly hinted at. And, if you holiday in the tundra, offer to go pick up things (literally, anything, from the store) and take a few laps around produce.
Yes, there is some tongue and cheek humor (it's one of my coping mechanisms) mixed in with some otherwise legit suggestions, but honestly when it comes to conflict over the holidays, my number one tip is this: practice empathy (yeah, I linked the definition- you're welcome). I am highly empathetic. And no, that doesn't mean I agree with everyone, every time. It means I can't help but try to figure out where the other person is coming from. I have this biological need to find a logical argument and their reasoning and have recently (like, holy cow a week ago, recently) realized that most people's criticism comes from love or fear. Your cousin wants you to be the healthiest version of yourself which is why she clears her throat when you go for more pie (still, not cool Becky). Or your grandma thinks everything was better 'back in the day' because she seen her world change a lot and change scares her. Right or wrong, understanding where people are coming from helps me diffuse a lot of frustration over the holidays, and basically everyday. Finally, I truly urge you to take care of yourself this season. Set boundaries, say 'no', spend time with those that love and support you and your choices. And if all else fails, go hide in a dark room under the pile of coats.